Panther gets political: student runs for Miami commission seat

Rohan Jani/Contributing Writer

Antonio J. Diaz, a sophomore in political science and government, is currently running for City Commissioner of District 4 in Miami. While he is a Democrat by heart, he is campaigning as a nonpartisan for this position.

Since his days in high school, Diaz had been “focused on helping people run for office, supporting their platforms and doing groundwork from writing briefs and speeches to canvassing and phone-banking.”

“I am running against a city-level candidate who isn’t paying attention to the community and hasn’t shown up to many commission meetings,” Diaz said.

“As Commissioner, I would help businesses get back on track and redevelop them in my district. Crimes are being perpetrated too often and there are red light districts where prostitution occurs in one of the most advanced cities in the nation. If we focus on building more upscale hotels than shady motels, then we can see better tourism and keep stimulating the Street.”

Other initiatives proposed by Diaz include fixing business districts in other domains and marking special extensions for taxes and privileges.

Diaz said “age wasn’t even a considerable factor.”

The requirement to run for office in the City of Miami is being registered to vote.

Diaz said having a “fresh face” is his advantage, but he has some business, legislative and community experience too.

“In terms of me getting ahead, it’s not really as much as working at the firm and having pure experience,” he said. “Focusing on goals ensures that I am getting ahead in the campaign trail anyway.”

When inquired if he would see any future objectives beyond his campaign trail, he noted that he “isn’t looking for any positions beyond City Commissioner at the moment.”

Diaz cited his family as a motivator, as they influenced him to grow and learn from Miami. He also said that his background on a social level helped him improve every day in his life.

“My grandmother lived here and raised me for a long time. I came to see how people were being  treated in the community, and I even spent lots of time with people three to four times my age,” Diaz said. “My family owns Clinical Care Network, which includes many elderly patients. I witness how politicians try to buy them off every four years [by providing incentives], and then you see them later on in homeless conditions or living in terrible, run-down homes.”

Diaz further presumes that Miami is “on a slippery slope,” and said it needs to instill leadership in young, talented individuals to stabilize the state of Florida.

“If we focus on saving vulnerable individuals and revitalizing the lives of children, then we can make things right. I see South Florida on a downward trend thanks to corruption charges revolving around the mayors of areas like Sweetwater, Miami Gardens and Doral,” Diaz said. “From weapons, ambulances and police car transactions to Venezuelan government affairs, many of us don’t even know how tough it is with Miami politics.”

Diaz said he is concerned with commission meetings that take place with no authorities properly recognizing young individuals in proportional representation.

“Nobody takes us into account, whether it’s parking regulation at FIU or in Sweetwater,” he said.

What Diaz really expects from Miami’s community is an improvement in every aspect, including the way politicians run for office and how the young should stand up for the right cause.

“We’re a really resilient populace, but the government needs to take charge without leaving us behind or clueless,” Diaz said.

Despite competitive hurdles from the election process, the balance between academics and the campaign trail has never been more manageable for Diaz.

His tip: “Your syllabus is your best friend. Get your stuff done well ahead of time. Before going out at night, make sure you do your research paper or any other assignment and keep track of academics first before having fun at the end of the day.”

Supposing that he wins the nomination for City Commission, Diaz said he wants people to know that “running for office isn’t hard and it isn’t impossible.”

“The best of the best should always represent us. They are just too afraid and that is not the right feeling if you are the right person to take office,” Diaz said. “Money isn’t a factor but dedication and motivation are. I want people to think, ‘Wow, if he did it then so can I!’”

Diaz cited FIU alum as his mentors — Jose Castillo, Natalia Rivero and Mike Rivero.

“They were the first friends I made at FIU,” Diaz said. “They raised me as my mentors and helped me accomplish these things.”

Mike Rivero, Diaz’s chief communications officer, praised his mentee. As his recruiter and very close friend, he admires Diaz’s perseverance.

“I like someone who’s right about something and will fight for it,” Rivero said. “He’s always open to suggestions and isn’t closed-minded. He listens to everyone’s point of view. I think we need that in local government since it’s usually one-sided.”

Diaz’s peers hold different opinions about his platform, however.

Steffany Montano, a freshman in economics and political science, appreciates the work that Diaz puts in for the elderly.

“What I like about his work is that he’s a person who actually cares about the people in his district,” Montano said. “He’s always taking priority in the elders and the youth of the community, which I think is something a lot of people lose sight of.”

Danielle Robinson, a freshman in political science, argues that while she thinks Diaz is striving for a great cause, his platform is a bit vague and doesn’t communicate well to audiences.

“The website doesn’t explain more about actual tangible issues: health care, education, business, taxes, etc.,” Robinson said. “I did want to point out that while Diaz mentioned health care and later equality, he omitted the fact that a huge inhibitor for women’s equality is unsatisfactory health care.

“I think these candidates need to explain more to the average citizen including the role of the office that the candidate is running for. What you do as a city commissioner and how you’re going to do it better than everyone else is what counts,” she said.

Despite her stance against Diaz’s approaches, she still feels his platform is beneficial based on his profile.

“What appeals to me is that he’s young and seemingly middle class, and thus obviously unlike the other candidates.”

While the votes won’t come until Nov. 25, Diaz said he “wants the city to be in better hands.”

Be the first to comment on "Panther gets political: student runs for Miami commission seat"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.